It was clear from the opening kickoff that the Fremont Firebirds were going to carry the lion’s share of the possession in Tuesday’s varsity girls soccer match against the Cupertino Pioneers. What remained unclear was whether or not the Firebirds would be able to break through the offside trap from the Pioneers’ backline. Cupertino’s defense worked together to force the Firebirds into a half dozen offside whistles whilst the game remained knotted at nil.
Eventually, the Firebirds used a throw-in pass to open the scoring. No, one cannot score directly from a throw-in, but you can get an assist, which is exactly what Fremont junior Olivia Ireland earned for the Firebirds. Ireland’s long throw-in feed from about 20-yards off the goal line found the foot of teammate Flor Chavez in the center of the pitch. The senior then took a quick touch before firing a left-foot shot into the far upper-left corner of Cupertino’s net.
“It’s honestly really great to have Olivia be able to throw the ball really far,” chimed Chavez. “Now we can score off throw-ins.”
“Olivia’s throws are amazing” added right defensive back Ashley Chavez, who had the most standout defensive play of the day for Fremont, denying a point-blank opportunity late in the first half. “Her throws go so far. I think she should take throws way more often. They are more like a cross; they always get to the center for a strong opportunity at goal.”
Flor Chavez’s goal would come in the 29th minute. Just three minutes later, the Firebirds would bury their next strong opportunity when freshman Rylan Cashman somehow worked a loose ball free through the traffic of multiple defenders just outside the box. Cashman took two quick dribbles and then was all alone with Cupertino’s keeper. She drilled a 15-yard shot into the upper-right corner of the goal.
“I just remember the ball was bouncing around between players back and forth, back and forth,” recalled Cashman on the sequence leading up to her goal. “It was right in front of the goal, and I really wanted to score so I just tried to get it out of that clump of players.”
Cashman not only scored in this match, but she nearly had a couple assists from the corner flag and was one of the fastest players on the pitch.
“We’re super lucky to have such a high-quality player,” remarked Fremont Head Coach Payam Hajjarian. “She’s a good player; she works really hard. I think she, at times, puts a lot of pressure on herself. I think if she lets the game come to her, she’s just going to continue to develop as a player. She has a lot of talent and as long as she stays the path, I can see her continuing to grow and become a star for us.”
For now, Cashman and the Firebirds have improved to 5-1-2 in league play with the 3-0 win. Junior Julia Ly capped off the scoring in the second half for the Firebirds. Fremont is neck and neck with Wilcox for second place in the El Camino League standings.
Both teams are within striking distance of first place Saratoga at 7-0-1.